I find Valentines to be one of the most challenging holidays of the year for a child with food allergies. The most popular items going around are the candy conversation hearts, suckers, and chocolate…all items that can contain peanuts and nuts. Thanks to Hershey’s, chocolate is now a viable option for our food allergy family.
I’m a HUGE fan of Hershey’s because they take food allergies seriously and are proactive in their labeling. They go to great lengths to practice safe manufacturing practices and label their products accordingly. In addition, their 1-800 line customer service is knowledgeable and thorough in their explanation of Hershey’s and food allergens.
I spoke with a Hershey’s representative with concerns about the almond and peanut butter products they make and wondered aloud if any of their chocolate products could be safe for those with peanut/nut allergies. The representative said Hershey’s products are labeled according to the ingredients they contain and if they were processed on the same machinery as products containing peanuts and nuts.
For instance, almost all multi-bar packages of the mini Hershey bars will say “processed in a facility that also processes almonds.” Whereas, most of the multi-bar packages of regular size Hershey bars are not labeled with any allergen warning…which according to the Hershey representative I spoke with, means it is peanut/nut free.
I seldom buy individual Hershey products that don’t come in a box or an additional outside wrapper (like a plastic bag that Hershey kisses come in) so that I can verify the ingredients. My understanding is that individual candy bars do not always have the full allergy warning on them.
Because of Hershey’s, my son is able to safely consume certain chocolate products without the high prices of a specialty chocolate that is peanut/nut free. I sincerely respect that Hershey’s is able to safely produce multiple products and flavors, while still making a large portion of their products safely available and affordable to those with food allergies.
Many other popular chocolate candy makers are not as willing to make accommodations for those with peanut/nut allergies. Hey, m & m’s….ARE YOU LISTENING?????? (To visit Mars’ website and ask them to make some packages of regular m&m’s available without any traces or contamination of peanuts and nuts…visit this link: http://www.mms.com/us/legal/feedback.jsp
In the meantime, when you’re at the grocery store and are wondering how you can bring a little chocolate sweetness to your kiddo’s day, consider Hershey’s!